Monday, February 14, 2011

Things I Don’t Do

At an age slightly beyond middle age, I've decided there are a number of things I will no longer do.   Very high on the list is camping.   I don’t like sleeping bags, I don’t like carrying sleeping bags to the places you need sleeping bags.    It used to be that I developed sudden ear aches to avoid camping.  Now I just say no. 

I will no longer wash dishes.  I will fill dish washers, I will empty dishwashers.  If emotionally blackmailed  I will dry dishes but with a such chip on my shoulder, that the blackmailer will think twice about ever asking me again. 

I will hold babies for no longer than I wish to - I don’t care how cute they are,.   Under no circumstances will I change diapers.   Been there, done that.    (The one exception might be if and when I ever have grandchildren.   Hold, yes.  Diapers, still no.)

I bring all this up because we had guests this weekend.   Many guests.  Guests with babies and all the paraphernalia that babies demand.   Toys and Muppets.  Little blocks with sharp corners.  Exceedingly cute babies who had no interest in their toys and blocks and Muppets but instead wanted to be held.  And cooed over.  And walked.   And fed.  And changed. 

By me.  Like dogs, babies seem attracted to those who would rather ignore them.

We had more guests than beds in the house and so my sweet daughter gave up hers to sleep with my wife.  Everyone now had a bed.   Except me.   I was banished to my office to sleep on the floor.

In a sleeping bag.

One guest arrived not feeling well and immediately took to his bed – mine – and with the help of Nyquil and my best red wine, slept for 48 hours straight.

One of the mothers of babies woke Saturday morning with a sore throat and fever.  “Never fear!”, said my wife and she immediately went into baby-care mode.  

On Saturday night after a dinner for14 people – roast chicken, thank you – one of our guests, “trying to help”,  decided it would be a good idea to stuff a pound of left over Caesar salad down the garbage disposal.   Needless to say he backed up the pipes causing the kitchen sink and the dishwasher to overflow onto the floor.  Vinegar and baking soda and a plumber’s drain snake did nothing and so I spent the rest of the evening carting pots, pans and dishes over to a helpful, dishwasherless, neighbor, washing them by hand and then carting them back.  Through all this, my wife, Grandma Bear, was happily nurturing sick guests and joyfully tending to their respective babies. 

The only thing to do was drink heavily and press on.   "Press on!",  I said to myself.  "This too shall pass!  A sleeping bag awaits!  On the office floor!".

It is Monday now.  The guests have departed.  The drain is cleared.  The house is picked up.  

“Look at me”, I sternly said to my wife.

“What”, she said.

“Listen to me”, I said.  “I have something to say and I’m only going to say it once.”

What”, she said.

“Happy Valentines Day”,  I said. 

She looked at me a moment.  She smiled.

“That’s all?”.

She kisssed me.  Unfair.

At an age slightly beyond middle age, I've decided there are a number of things I will no longer do.    And yet, somehow, I still do them, everyone.

Men live lives of quiet desperation.


A friend responds to my missive about taking refuge in the bathroom.

My wife, who considers subtlety a cover for cowardice, if not the semi-polite version of lying, loves to walk by the bathroom and comment in what I could have eaten last night that is so fouling our small nest.

"OMG," she'll shout, "have you sprayed?"

Desperate straits indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Steve, I trust your guests don't read your blog. Before I began writing things that went public I had a lot more friends.

    What vexes me is that the harder I try to be helpful – the more specific tasks I jump to assume without being nagged – the more lacks and mistakes I am certain to have pointed out. Why has it taken me almost a long lifetime to understand it's not about being partners in making life smoother, but a cutthroat gender war in which I am dangerously outgunned?